My name is Dave Sandford. I have been a professional photographer for 18 years. Shooting professional sports has paid the bills, but I’ve been the most passionate about anything to do with our beautiful nature and especially water. Oceans and lakes beckon me. Since I was a kid, I’ve loved to be on, in or around water. I’m fascinated by the sheer raw power and force of it, captivated by the graceful movement of big waves and mesmerized by light dancing across it.
Recently, I have felt drawn to the lakes that are virtually in the backyard of my hometown of London, Ont., Canada. Specifically, the awe-inspiring Great Lakes. Lake Erie, the 4th largest of the Great Lakes caught my attention for this nature photography essay. I chose to focus on Erie at a time of year (mid-October through December) when the Great Lakes can act more like oceans than lakes. With warm sunny beach days behind us, it is some of Autumn’s dark, cold and windy days that transform the Great Lakes into wickedly wild and treacherous bodies of water, perfect for taking stunning nature photos.
Lake Erie is 388km in length and approximately 92km across. It is also the shallowest of the Great Lakes, with an average depth of 62’ and the maximum depth of 210’. Lake Erie’s name originates from a native tribe called the lake “Erige” (“cat”) due to the unpredictable and at times dangerously violent nature. Because of the shallowness of the lake, conditions can change dramatically in just a matter of minutes, with fierce waves springing up unexpectedly. Lake Erie’s unpredictable and violent nature has laid claim to some 1800-8000 shipwrecks dating back to the 17th century, most of which have never been found.
Over the last 4 weeks for 2-3 days a week, sometimes 6 hours a day, I did the 45 min drive to Lake Erie. The powerful images here were made using my Canon gear, 1Dx body, 400mm & 70-200mm lenses, protected from the elements by my Aquatech sport’s housing and sport’s shield gear. Shot during the month of November on the North shore of Lake Erie, about 500’-600’ off-shore from a small lakeside community called Port Stanley, Ontario. Daily temperatures ranging from -2 up to 14 degrees celsius, sustained wind speeds of 45-50km/ph, gusting 70-100+ km/ph, the average water temperature of 11 celsius, and wave heights reaching 25’. It is days like these that most people stay away from the lake… It’s days like these, when Erie comes alive, showing it’s true power. These are the days I can’t wait to get to the lake and create interesting photos!
Bane of the Great Lakes
Lake of the Cat
The Witch of November
Liquid Mountain Top
Lake Erie Monster
The Phonograph-Songs of the Deep
The Gales of November
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